12inchJacket_offsetOnce upon a time, in the days of MySpace, there was a band called He Is Legend. They had the misfortune of association with the mid-2000’s metalcore scene, and worse yet, they had a long way to go in the songwriting department. Over time they went through awkward growth spurts, thankfully ditching their core trappings, but struggling with finding their own style. This metamorphosis finally culminated with 2009’s It Hates You, a damn-near-perfect blast of melody and heaviness that won critical acclaim and lots of repeat plays in my car. Upon finally assuming their ultimate form, HiL did the one thing that made sense: two months after It Hates You was released, they broke up.

Of course, no one in comic books, pro wrestling, or heavy metal stays dead forever. Inevitably, He Is Legend returned to the live stage in 2011. After a couple years of getting their feet wet and breaking in a new drummer, they began work on what would become their 5th album, Heavy Fruit.

Upon first listen, the record seems a little short on riffs — until I realized that the new-and-improved HiL is now playing a different game altogether. Guitarist Adam Tanbouz and bassist Matt Williams have reached expert level when it comes to building songs texturally. Where lesser musicians would simply dial in “heavier” tones to bluntly indicate song dynamics, Tanbouz instead works in layers. Case in point: the chorus of “Miserable Company,” which builds to maximum sonic weight using only overdubs of clean-ish guitars. Williams’ bass work shines bright throughout, holding the songs together with huge tone while also being interesting compositionally.

This record is nothing if not diverse. “Be Easy” builds from a ridiculous funk-skank riff into one of the most “fun” songs I’ve heard in forever. (Picture an alternate reality where Red Hot Chili Peppers don’t fucking suck, and you’re getting close.) “Beethozart” finds Tanbouz working an appropriately baroque chord progression while Williams and new drummer Sam Huff create tension beneath. And the closing title track is worth the wait, alternating between gentle verses and a crushing, downtuned-to-Z chorus.

He Is Legend – Heavy Fruit 02

For most people reading this site, I’d imagine the dealbreaker with this band will be vocalist Schuylar Croom. Most criticism of HiL is aimed at Croom’s douchey appearance and/or lack of singing ability, and there’s some truth to all of that. On It Hates You, he shocked the world by suddenly sounding like Karl Agell circa COC‘s Blind, and Heavy Fruit shows him maintaining that high standard. “Time To Stain,” for instance, would be an unbearable power ballad in the hands of most singers, but Croom’s delivery nails the resigned, passive tone of the lyrics. Elsewhere, he still has a way with surreal, hilarious verses, as on “This Will Never Work” and “Spout Mouth.”

I don’t even know how to describe He Is Legend‘s sound at this point in their evolution. At best, I picture a group of kids abandoned in a redneck-y suburb with only Pantera and Smashing Pumpkins albums. Like Queens of the Stone Age or Clutch, they don’t make for easy comparisons. Heavy Fruit takes a few listens to fully ripen, but it’s the sound of a band that has developed a truly individual sound.

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  • Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen

    This is a good album. Not album of the year though. That would have to go to Pale Communion.

    • If it was Album of the Year material, it wouldn’t be a Things You Might Have Missed.

      • Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen

        Oh yeah, right. Still, a great album nonetheless.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    Thanks for the tip. This is pretty special. I will pay it back in 3’s. Bury Me Deep-Nearly Down (StD), Kingcrow-In Crescendo (AMG), Concept of God-Visions (FtAG)

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Interesting! I’ll check it out. Thanks!!!

  • TminusEight

    I like it… I was about to say “It reminds me of… mixed with…” but now I’m thinking fuck knows what this is, but who cares, it sounds wicked. Will definitely check this out some more. Thanks.

  • Jm from nj

    I was a somewhat devoted fan of this band. Then “it hates you” came out and I became a fanboy. While that album has not been surpassed by this, “heavy fruit” is a continuation and is just a great, diverse album of heavy rock music. It’s not their post-hardcore beginnings, or their flirtation with southern-metal on “suck out the poison”, but it is damn good. Glad these guys are getting the respect they deserve (albeit on a small scale).

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  • Great to see this on here. I love these guys, and this album didn’t let me down. It sounds like you’re not a fan of their earlier sound though? I love this just as much as “I Am Hollywood” and “Suck out the Poison”.